Namibia Emerging Farmers Urged to Join Trophy Hunting

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    Namibia Emerging Farmers Urged to Join Trophy Hunting
    Brigitte Weidlich

    TROPHY hunting should not only be regarded as a specialised division of Namibia's tourism sector, but as an opportunity for communal and commercial farmers to diversify their operations and earn extra income, an expert said yesterday.

    Speaking at a workshop for emerging commercial farmers, Diethelm Metzger said 80 per cent of all wild animals in Namibia lived on farmland - a unique situation experienced in no other country.

    Metzger, the president of the Namibia Professional Hunting Association (Napha), said earnings from trophy hunting had increased by 12 per cent a year over the past few years.

    "Trophy hunting contributed N$316 million to the local economy in 2005, thus surpassing the small livestock sector in agriculture, which contributed N$285,1 million" Metzger said.

    "The total agricultural output came to N$637,1 million in 2005, while the N$316 million coming from trophy hunting alone was about half of total agriculture.

    "Since Government by law put communal land on an equal footing with freehold land (commercial farms) in 1996 and rural communities were thus given a say in their natural resources, which includes wild animals, the numbers of game species in the rural conservancies have increased substantially," Metzger pointed out.

    Oryx or gemsbok shot by trophy hunters increased from 1 312 animals annually in 1994 to 4 400 in 2005, and springbok from 692 to 3 012 animals over the same period.

    Trophy hunting has in the meantime expanded into communal conservancies, which have increased to 52, cover over 121 000 square kilometres and had jointly received N$7 million generated from hunting clients.

    "We are now reaching a point where we need more wildlife producers so that their excess game can be sold to other areas for trophy hunting," Metzger told the approximately 80 emerging commercial farmers.

    In addition, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism has introduced a game breeding loan scheme to communal and emerging farmers, which they should definitely take advantage of.

    Environment Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, who opened the workshop, encouraged the new farmers to seriously participate in trophy hunting.

    "Just last Friday I witnessed the game auction of our Ministry in Windhoek, where 175 wild animals were sold in record time within one hour for a total of N$19 million and how keen the people were to bid high prices to own these animals, like N$500 000 for a black rhino and N$340 000 for a sable antelope.

    This should be an eye opener how valuable natural resources like our wild animals are," the Minister emphasised.

    Trophy hunting created jobs and communities derived benefits like the meat from the shot animals and sharing in the income from hunting fees, she said.

    "Farmers, whether communal or commercial, should seriously think of diversifying their farming activities as wild animals consume less grazing than livestock.

    I don't want to undermine the very important beef industry, but also consider that meat of wild animals [venison] is more healthy than beef."

    The Minister commended Napha for turning the once white trophy-hunting sector around to include an increasing percentage of previously disadvantaged Namibians since 1990.

    "I am informed that Eagle Rock Hunting School outside Windhoek has trained 148 previously disadvantaged Namibians as professional hunters and hunting guides plus 377 hunting assistants and camp attendants.

    This is good progress, but more needs to be done."

    The workshop covered topics like legal requirements and investments to start trophy hunting, management of game populations, ethical hunting practices and practical hints for success.

    It was organised by the Lazarus Ipangelwa Foundation and the joint presidency committee of the two agricultural bodies NAU and NNFU.

    Source: The Namibian

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